In an interview with National Public Radio’s public editor today, Terence Samuel, managing editor for news, explained why readers haven’t seen any stories about the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop.
“We don’t want to waste our time on stories that are not really stories, and we don’t want to waste the listeners’ and readers’ time on stories that are just pure distractions,” Samuel reasoned. “And quite frankly, that’s where we ended up, this was . . . a politically driven event and we decided to treat it that way.”
Samuel, sadly, speaks for much of the media, which has ignored or dismissed the emails out of hand. In her 60 Minutes interview with the president (released preemptively by the White House), Lesley Stahl vigorously denies that Joe Biden is in the midst of a scandal. When the New York Post story broke, the New York Times immediately followed up — with a piece on the Post’s reporting.
For his part, Samuel fails to explain what journalistic standards he employs to ascertain what does and doesn’t constitute a “waste of time.” The New York Post’s reporting, after all, has now been corroborated by an on-the-record source, Tony Bobulinski, a former Hunter Biden business partner and Navy veteran. The emails that Bobulinski says are “genuine” purport to detail a business arrangement in which the Biden family “aggressively leveraged the Biden family name to make millions” from foreign entities.
How is that “not really a story”?
There is more and more reason to credit the veracity of those emails, or at a minimum, suggest that they warrant more thorough investigation. We have what appears to be a signed receipt from the computer-repair shop in Delaware, demonstrating that Hunter’s laptop and hard drive were obtained legally. We know that the laptop in question is being held in connection to an FBI money-laundering investigation. The director of national intelligence, John Ratcliffe, says that the emails in question aren’t part of a Russian disinformation campaign and the FBI hasn’t contradicted him.
Yet, the managing editor of one of the nation’s largest publicly funded media organizations believes emails possibly implicating a presidential front-runner in having benefited from deals involving his shady son who was leveraging the family name and proximity to power for millions are nothing but a distraction. Nobody would apply that standard to stories about influence-peddling, foreign contacts, or foreign financial interests on the part of Donald Trump’s family — nor should they. To the contrary, not only has the press properly treated Trump family business interests as newsworthy, they have frequently disregarded even the most minimal journalistic standards to issue breathless reports about them.
In contemporary media parlance, “distraction,” like “Russian disinformation,” is a euphemism for any story that harms the prospects of the Biden candidacy. Too many journalists seem to live in terror of being blamed for reporting stories that might influence voters to reelect Donald Trump. As of this writing, National Public Radio is running headlines such as, “Here’s Where The Threat Of Militia Activity Around The Elections Is The Highest” and “‘Borat’ Sequel Grabs A Political News Cycle — At Least Momentarily.” Surely NPR’s audience could handle a careful explanation of why Hunter Biden’s laptop held emails and texts alleging that his father, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, was taking a 10 percent cut from energy deals involving the Chinese communists.
Of course, National Public Radio is free to cover whatever news it deems important. But if it runs interference for the preferred presidential candidate of the editors, it should do so without the $250 million provided by taxpayers every year. As it is, NPR programming largely caters to the sensibilities of urban liberals. And that demographic happens to have the financial resources to ensure that NPR remains a vibrant source of left-wing news and entertainment without the federal government chipping in.
Until that time, however, taxpayers have every right to expect organizations such as NPR to hold the powerful accountable without partisan favor — and that goes for both Donald Trump and Joe Biden.